A lot can happen in a few years in the business world, and nowhere is the change faster than in the IT sector. One name stands out in the region for its expertise and longevity in this challenging market. We speak to Garry Sheriff, Managing Director of IT specialists ITPS, to find out more about how the company became the region's IT partner of choice.
“There cannot be anyone in business who has not heard the term ‘cloud computing’, even if they might find it hard to sum up its meaning in just a few words, but I really dislike the term,” says Garry.
“While it is true that cloud services have transformed the way we live and work, it leads to confusion about what cloud is, and what its benefits are. Cloud simply means using internet-based computing to get anytime, anywhere access to systems and data, using an infrastructure with both physical and virtual components, which may sit in a number of locations owned and managed by others.
Cloud can deliver benefits including improved resilience, capacity, scalability and performance, and better ROI. It puts startups and large corporates on a level playing field in terms of capability, giving them access to the latest technologies on a utility model basis. The downside is it offers so much choice it can be difficult to work out the best path to take. Adopting cloud is not an ‘all or nothing’ decision, but you do need expert help to decide which cloud models suit your needs, and how to either replace or complement an existing system.
The IT market has been through a massive shift in the last few years and we continually align our own business model to take advantage of areas where we foresee opportunities for growth. For instance in 2014, spotting an emerging demand for IT delivered as a service, particularly among companies concerned about exactly where and how their data is housed, managed and protected, we created our own £4m high security, high specification data centre here in the region. We added in extra benefits such as build and project space, plus fully equipped workspace recovery seats and the take up rate of clients buying into our data centre services has more than validated our investment, and we are about to start work on expanding the existing footprint.”
Cloud computing was in its infancy when ITPS was formed in 2000, and as times have changed, so has the role that it plays in supporting the success of its clients. The business now employs over 120 staff, delivering a range of managed, hosted and data centre services, communications and support to regional and national clients.
Garry highlights one of the factors behind the company’s success: “We believe it’s not about the technology itself, it is about using it intelligently to deliver business improvement solutions.
IT specialists have gradually gone from system fault fixers to strategic partners making sure the client’s IT drives business innovation and growth. Business owners are less interested in the technology and more focussed on what it can do for their business, needing their IT smoothly delivered and supported, scaleable and secure, and available 24/7, 365 days a year.
“It’s a big ask in a world of rapid and continuous technology advances, but we built our reputation on meeting that requirement, regardless of the client’s size and sector.
Much of our success is down to the right partnerships, for instance we are part of an elite global network of premium data centre specialists authorised to deliver Microsoft’s new Azure Stack solution. This is based on Microsoft’s cloud offering Azure, but instead of being delivered via one of Microsoft’s data centres anywhere in the world, Azure Stack is delivered via the data centre of a trusted third party such as ITPS.
While Azure has suited some businesses, others – particularly those operating within strict regulatory frameworks – have cited concerns around their business-critical functions being in a shared, multi-tenanted environment over which they have little control.
Microsoft’s response was to develop Azure Stack, which gives clients all the benefits of Microsoft’s tools and technology in a customisable format, but in a service delivered from a local, premium data centre partner who can provide a granular level of expertise and on the spot support.”
ITPS recently attended the invitation-only Airlift 2017 event in Seattle, where worldwide data centre specialists gathered to hear Microsoft’s technical architects share the secrets of this new technology.
“We are delighted to have Microsoft’s seal of approval on our level of expertise and we believe that our accreditation as an advanced Cisco Cloud partner has gone some way to underlining our credentials in this field.” adds Garry.
“The world of IT moves fast and businesses need to keep up with developments. The most efficient route is to work with a truly expert IT partner. Organisations leveraging cloud technology have a significant advantage over their competitors, and that is something we all want for our businesses.”